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12 ethical dilemmas gnawing at developers today

Peter Wayner | April 22, 2014
The tech world has always been long on power and short on thinking about the ramifications of this power. If it can be built, there will always be someone who will build it without contemplating a safer, saner way of doing so, let alone whether the technology should even be built in the first place. The software gets written. Who cares where and how it's used? That's a task for somebody in some corner office.

Some programmers, for example, love to write complex code that integrates with the operating system and installs new or more complicated drivers. Is that going to work in the future? Will it play well with other new drivers? Will it work with the next generation of the OS? Or will your software leave people with a computer that runs slower and fails more frequently even when your software isn't running?

It may seem simple, but choosing whether to stick with the APIs or follow the standards is an ethical decision. Yes, technology is evolving quickly, and a slavish devotion to outdated mandates can be a hindrance to progress. But we need to consider our part in writing code that lasts a bit longer and not take the decision to swim outside our lane lightly. We can always ask for changes to the standards or the APIs if we need them.


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